India’s third-largest private-sector lender Axis Bank snapped up beleaguered digital wallet firm FreeCharge for $60 million (Rs 385 crore) last week. In the process, it pipped other suitors such as bigger digital wallet firms Paytm and MobiKwik, e-commerce major Amazon, payments firm PayPal, Airtel Money and South Africa’s Internet group Naspers.
Snapdeal is finally selling off FreeCharge, its mobile transactions platform, to private sector Axis Bank. The bank said in a communication to the Bombay Stock Exchange that it has entered into a share purchase agreement with Jasper Infotech Private Ltd, Snapdeal parent, to acquire 100 percent equity in FreeCharge for a consideration of Rs 385 crore.
American online retail giant Amazon has infused $20 million (Rs 130 crore) in Amazon Pay, with the much talked about wallet services for third-party payments finally rolling out in India.
With more than 1.2 billion monthly active users globally, Facebook Inc.-owned messaging application WhatsApp undoubtedly knows how to keep consumers engaged on its network. Will WhatsApp, however, be able to gain similar traction when it eventually launches its payment and WhatsApp for Business apps?
With FreeCharge to be acquired Paytm and MobiKwik a distant second, there is only one clear leader in the digital wallet space currently. Paytm has surpassed several others in this segment and positioned itself well to rise the demonetisation wave.
Paytm and MobiKwik, India’s largest mobile wallet companies, had better pad up for their biggest competition yet. For, Amazon is preparing to enter the mobile recharge segment, which accounts for nearly one-third of spending on mobile wallets, with Amazon Pay.
Just like the growth of ecommerce companies in India was fuelled by discounts, mobile wallet companies such as Paytm and MobiKwik grew on the back of cashbacks — sometimes as high as 100% of the transaction amount.
At 43, Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s energy level is palpable, as he danced on “Malhari” the song from actor Ranveer Singh’s movie Bajirao Mastani, at the annual Paytm event. But Sharma forgot that in the era of internet, on which Paytm’s business depends, nothing is private. While many would call it an “oops moment”, Sharma, founder of Paytm went with the flow, and has grabbed unwanted attention.
Mobile-wallet ventures are increasingly looking for partnerships with insurance companies in an effort to minimise their liability with risks from cyber security breaches on the rise.
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The biggest change for technology startups came on November 8, when the government announced its decision to ban currency notes of Rs 500 and 1,000. Suddenly technology became a large driver for commerce. While retail sales in pockets dropped up to 50%, sales for e-tailers fell 20%. It was also a year of large cultural shifts – more number of buyers shopped online than ever before, and demonetisation added to the drive.
The government’s demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes has led to the meteoric rise of Paytm, India’s largest digital wallet and payment company.